(WASHINGTON) — The Republican National Committee is slowly releasing a list of names of high-profile Republicans, such as Condoleezza Rice and Rick Santorum, who will headline the GOP convention in Tampa later this month. But just because someone’s name appears on this rundown doesn’t mean they can be ruled out as candidates for vice president. This, according to Mitt Romney himself, who suggested Tuesday that the list could be a ruse.
“You don’t think that we would be so silly as to not provide, from time to time, the capacity to throw people off, do you? The fact that someone is speaking at the convention doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t necessarily find their speaking slot changed from one time to another,” Romney said in a Fox News interview with Carl Cameron.
This wouldn’t be the first time the Romney campaign has toyed with reporters over the veepstakes. In July, Matt Rhoades, Romney’s campaign manager, sent an email to supporters with the subject line, “Mitt’s VP,” making reporters wonder if the name of Romney’s running mate was being announced. The email was just for a fundraising contest to meet Romney and his eventual running mate.
In a similar vein, on the opening night of the Olympics, Beth Myers, who’s tasked with leading Romney’s VP search, gave a “Friday Follow” shout out to what at first appeared to be a short list of potential contenders. It eventually turned out to be just a tease.
Romney and his campaign have mastered the veepstakes guessing and waiting game, even creating an iPhone app called “Mitt’s VP,” which asks users to enter their personal data so they can download the app and receive the first notification about Romney’s pick. In an email Tuesday afternoon, the Romney campaign reminded users to enable push notifications on their phone to ensure they’ll receive the alert.
But no gadget or email holds the knowledge quite yet of who is on Romney’s final list or when the announcement will be made — pieces of information Romney and his team have safely guarded for months.
“I am not going to give you anything on the VP front. I am not going to give you anything, no clue. All I can tell you is that by the third night of the Republican Convention I will have made a decision and be ready to communicate it,” Romney said in the Fox News interview.
But for the second time in a month, the Drudge Report added fuel to the VP fire, this time with a report that President Obama told a top donor he heard Romney is eyeing Gen. David Petraeus, who currently serves as the director of the CIA, for the number-two spot. The Drudge Report also said Romney secretly met with Petraeus in New Hampshire.
Last month, Drudge sparked a frenzy when it listed Condoleezza Rice, who many considered to be an unlikely candidate, as a leading contender in Romney’s veepstakes hunt.
As he posed for a picture with Dutchie Caray, the wife of the late Chicago baseball announcer Harry Caray, at Caray’s restaurant in Chicago, Romney ignored questions from reporters asking if he had met with Gen. Petraeus.
But a source close to Petraeus told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl no meeting occurred between the CIA director and Romney. And White House Press Secretary Jay Carney shot down the report, saying the president has never suggested Romney would like Petraeus to join the GOP ticket.
“I can say with absolute confidence that such an assertion has never been uttered by the president,” Carney said Tuesday during the White House daily briefing, adding a bit of cautionary advice to reporters. “And again, be mindful of your sources.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Dakin Andone, CNN
Azadeh Ansari and Angela Dewan, CNN
Jackson Adams, Teton Valley News
Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com